The CEO and founder of Jesse's Gifts and More Kiddist Cowans has launched a new business line, Events by Jesse's. The entrepreneur made a breakthrough this year when she was called to arrange decor for the grand reopening of TGI Fridays in early November this year.
The business unit was launched on October 23, 2022, operating from 14 Lady Musgrave Road in Kingston 10.
Cowans told the Jamaica Observer, "I have always had an interest in event planning and decor. As a project management professional, I thought it was quite fitting as well."
Kiddist Cowans' primary business is personalising home decor items and gifts. It all started after borrowing a sewing machine from a friend to make cushions. The business has since blossomed into an array of personalised gift items, branded items and home decor pieces. This latter category includes acrylic LED lamps; wooden, laser-engraved photo clocks; embroidered shirts, caps and more.
Event planning began in 2021 when she completed a certification course in event planning and decor at the Institute of JAR, founded by Jannel Alexander-Reid. The Institute of JAR is a skills-training and entrepreneurship school registered with the Ministry of Education in Jamaica.
Later, in 2022, while participating in the Scotiabank Vision Achievers Programme, Cowans says, "I had to revamp the vision for the primary business, Jesse's Gifts & Decor, and it was then that I decided to add events."
The entrepreneur made use of her birthday party in October 2022 as a launch event and received accolades.
She recalls, "The event was a birthday party, business launch and sip and paint event all in one. I collaborated with a fellow Scotiabank Vision Achiever — The Art of Motivation [a mobile art-based edutainment centre in Kingston] — to execute the sip and paint aspect of the evening and it was a hit. Within a few days I was getting enquiries for services."
Her second event was a set-up for a graduation dinner party at Chive, following that she received the call. This was to do the balloon garland and ribbon setup for TGI Fridays Jamaica for their grand reopening.
"That was huge and turned out really well also," the CEO said.
"Currently, as we are still [in] a new aspect of the business, we employ on an as needed basis. So, for example, at the TGI Fridays setup I collaborated with three persons and for my most recent setup for a photoshoot, I only had one person with me. As the business grows, though, I hope to be able to employ people on a full-time basis," Cowans shared.
Jesse's now offers clients full-service event planning and decor as well as rental of decor items.
"We are currently servicing persons within Kingston and St Andrew only but hopes to expand in the very near future," she says.
Cowan believes her competitive advantage lies in being the owner of a personalised gifts and branding company.
"I have the liberty to provide exclusively personalised details to all my clients in house, so people can get the unique experience with every event without the hassles of having to go elsewhere.
"For example, for TGI Fridays, at the last minute they wanted branded balloons as part of the setup and we were easily able to deliver because we offer that service under the Jesse's Gifts & Decor umbrella."
Currently, Jesse's target market are corporate entities who require event setups, which includes planning and decor. "We're also open to working with individuals for events as small as picnics or dinner parties to as huge as weddings.
"We are equipped to be able to take on small jobs or even very large ones as we do have a network within which we operate and can collaborate with other players in the sector. "
Cowan believes that the event planning and decor market is huge in size and value.
The major challenge so far has been sourcing items for decor at an affordable cost "so we can keep our costs manageable, but so far we have found one local supplier and we do purchase items online as well", the CEO shared.
Investment to date is approximately US$2,000 — an amount which already has been recouped from events planned.
The company head said, "As a new company we do want to manage the pace at which we grow in order that we are able to manage the jobs we take on. We plan to increase and expand our brand awareness through the traditional and social media market and as we expand, employ more full-time staff. We would also like to remain self-funded for now so that we can stave off any debt and grow organically."